Interesting Trivia

These fascinating tidbits are collected from a number of files that have been sent to me over the years. Some, however, may not be correct. If you find an error, please bring it to my attention!

English Language

  1. "I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. (This discounts imperative commands like "Go!" or "Up!", whose status as "complete" sentences is debatable.)
  2. Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them use to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."
  3. Dreamt is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt."
  4. Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning "containing arsenic."
  5. In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's."
  6. In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. That's where the phrase, "goodnight, sleep tight" came from.
  7. It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. (DON'T try this at home!)
  8. It was the accepted practice in Babylon, 4,000 years ago, that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the "honey month" or what we know today as the "honeymoon."
  9. Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle," is the phrase inspired by this practice.
  10. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
  11. Stewardesses is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.
  12. The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."
  13. The dot over the letter 'i' is called a tittle.
  14. The longest one-syllable words in the English language are screeched and scratched.
  15. The longest place-name still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupo-kaiwenuakitnatahu, a New Zealand hill.
  16. The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.
  17. The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the "General Purpose" vehicle, G.P.
  18. The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
  19. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
  20. The term "the whole 9 yards" came from W.W.II fighter pilots in the Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."
  21. The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the king is dead".
  22. The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
  23. There are only four words in the English language which end in "-dous" tremendous, horrendous, stupendous and hazardous.
  24. There is a seven letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.
  25. To "testify" was based on men in the Roman court swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles. [Or it could be the less interesting "testis", meaning "third person standing by" or "witness". As I say above, don't assume that any of these is correct... 8-)]
  26. Underground and underfund are the only words in the English language that begins and ends with the letters "und."

Animals

  1. A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
  2. A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
  3. A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why. (Note: this was disproved by Mythbusters.)
  4. A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. (This was also disproved by Mythbusters.)
  5. A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.
  6. A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
  7. An iguana can stay under water for 28 minutes.
  8. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
  9. Camel's milk does not curdle.
  10. Cat's urine glows under a blacklight.
  11. Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.
  12. Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.
  13. Giraffes have no vocal cords.
  14. In the last 4000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
  15. It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs.
  16. It takes a lobster approximately seven years to grow to be one pound.
  17. Many hamsters only blink one eye at a time.
  18. Murphy's Oil Soap is the chemical most commonly used to clean elephants.
  19. The giant squid has the largest eyes in the world.
  20. The male gypsy moth can "smell" the virgin female gypsy moth from 1 mile away.
  21. The muzzle of a lion is like a fingerprint: no two lions have the same pattern of whiskers.
  22. The world's termites outweigh the world's humans 10 to 1.
  23. There are more chickens than people in the world.
  24. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
  25. When opossums are playing 'possum, they are not "playing." They actually pass out from sheer terror.

People

  1. Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
  2. Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button. It was eliminated when he was sewn up after surgery.
  3. Babies are born without knee caps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2-6 years of age.
  4. Barbie's measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33.
  5. David Prowse was the guy in the Darth Vader suit in Star Wars. He spoke all of Vader's lines, and didn't know that he was going to be dubbed over by James Earl Jones until he saw the screening of the movie.
  6. Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades - King David, Clubs - Alexander the Great, Hearts - Charlemagne, and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
  7. Ingrown toenails are hereditary.
  8. Isaac Asimov is the only author to have a book in every Dewey-decimal category.
  9. John Larroquette of "Night Court" and "The John Larroquette Show" was the narrator of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
  10. John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.
  11. Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.
  12. Lincoln Logs were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright's son.
  13. Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.
  14. Mr. Rogers is an ordained minister.
  15. On average, 100 people choke to death on ball-point pens every year. BE CAREFUL!
  16. Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.
  17. Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
  18. Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
  19. Roger Ebert is the only film critic to have ever won the Pulitzer prize.
  20. Telly Savalas and Louis Armstrong died on their birthdays.
  21. The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.)
  22. The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.
  23. The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
  24. The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life."
  25. The most common name in the world is Mohammed.
  26. The name Wendy was made up for the book "Peter Pan."
  27. The name for Oz in the "Wizard of Oz" was, thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence "Oz."
  28. Who's that playing the piano on the "Mad About You" theme? Paul Reiser himself.
  29. Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

Miscellaneous

  1. A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
  2. All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial. Because of perspective, 26 or 27 are visible (with a high-powered magnifying glass) on the back of the $5 bill.
  3. All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.
  4. Almonds are members of the peach family.
  5. Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.
  6. Columbia University is the second largest landowner in New York City, after the Catholic Church.
  7. Cranberries are sorted for ripeness by bouncing them; a fully ripened cranberry can be dribbled like a basketball.
  8. Did you know that there are coffee flavored PEZ?
  9. Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy.
  10. Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
  11. February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
  12. Hang On Sloopy is the official rock song of Ohio.
  13. Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.
  14. If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
  15. In Britain, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.(The Speaker is the moderator of the Parliamentary sessions and as such cannot participate in debates. S/he does speak, usually to tell others to shut up!)
  16. In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
  17. In most advertisements, including newspapers, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10. (REASON: The two upward hands are more like a smiling face.)
  18. In the 1940s, the FCC assigned television's Channel 1 to mobile services (two-way radios in taxicabs, for instance) but did not re-number the other channel assignments. That is why your TV set has channels 2 and up, but no channel 1.
  19. In the great fire of London in 1666 half of London was burnt down but only 6 people were injured
  20. It takes about a half a gallon of water to cook macaroni, and about a gallon to clean the pot.
  21. Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula"- and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size: "L.A."
  22. Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.
  23. Montpelier, Vermont is the only U.S. state capital without a McDonald's.
  24. Most Americans' car horns beep in the key of "F."
  25. No NFL team which plays its home games in a domed stadium has ever won a Superbowl. (This became untrue in 2006-7 when Indy won, and 2010 when New Orleans won.)
  26. Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
  27. On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament Building is an American flag. (Canada now uses a coin instead of a $2 bill... HR) Actually, this is false. See Snopes.
  28. On an American one-dollar bill, there is an owl in the upper left-hand corner of the "1" encased in the "shield" and a spider hidden in the front upper right-hand corner.
  29. One of the reasons marijuana is illegal today is because cotton growers in the 30s lobbied against hemp farmers -- they saw it as competition.
  30. Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
  31. Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
  32. Since 1896, the beginning of the modern Olympics, only Greece and Australia have participated in every Olympics.
  33. The Boston University Bridge (on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts) is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane.
  34. The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.
  35. The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.
  36. The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.
  37. The Ramses brand condom is named after the great pharaoh Ramses II who fathered over 160 children.
  38. The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.
  39. The United States government keeps its supply of silver at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.
  40. The cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth II, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
  41. The first Ford cars had Dodge engines.
  42. The first toilet ever seen on television was on "Leave It To Beaver."
  43. The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.
  44. The letters KGB stand for Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti.
  45. The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
  46. The national anthem of Greece has 158 verses. No one in Greece has memorized all 158 verses.
  47. The only two days of the year in which there are no North American professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the day after the Major League All-Star Game.
  48. The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.
  49. The symbol on the "pound" key (#) is called an octothorpe.
  50. There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
  51. There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.
  52. There are only thirteen blimps in the world. Nine of the thirteen blimps are in the United States.
  53. There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.
  54. Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.
  55. Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.
  56. When the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers play football at home, the stadium becomes the state's third largest city.

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